Nasser is familiar to the Malayalis as a film actor, a fine one at that. Not many know he comes from a theatre background and that he is always at ease in a stage role. He conducts acting workshops in India and abroad and runs ‘Adavu,' the Centre for Tamil Arts which also offers training in acting.

“I love to act in theatre productions whenever I get a good opportunity,” he says. He has acted in several plays, including a few solo performances, like that of `Karna.' “Acting is acting, whether it is on stage or in film. Only, you need to adapt yourself to different media.”

Mr. Nasser, who has acted in all the four South Indian languages apart from Hindi and English, was in Kochi on Tuesday to open Abhinaya's summer theatre festival. “I haven't seen a Malayalam play for a long time, and I thought I would make use of this opportunity,” he said.

“All my energy comes from theatre,” Mr. Nasser, who has directed four films, and produced three of them, notes. “Theatre is more challenging than film.”

He points out that there is a lot of technological intervention in film, whereas in theatre the actor is face to face with the viewers without technology standing in between. “In theatre, there is continuity in acting; but not in film.” He finds theatre acting livelier. In cinema, however, Mr. Nasser dons whatever role that comes his way, though he tries to put his own stamp on each role. Most of his film roles were that of the villain's. But these roles, plus his theatre acting, have helped him to attain in South Indian languages a stature that Nazeerudheen Shah or Nana Patekar holds in Hindi.

Mr. Nasser is happy that theatre is being revitalised in Kerala. Film actors like Mohanlal and Mukesh do act in on stage occasionally, he noted. “Cinema is not everything, theatre is our tradition,” he says.

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